kentucky labelBURKHARDT, CARL Carl Burkhardt was the owner of Rite Records in Cincinnati, the parent company for Kentucky, Gateway, Big 4, Big 6, Arc, Deresco, Worthmore, and others.  The operation started as a radio repair shop and record store at 3930 Spring Grove Avenue in the Knowlton’s Corner area of Cincinnati in 1940.  They began pressing records there but eventually moved to the Evendale area, where their building was across Interstate 75 from the GE Plant and could be seen from the highway.  In this location they added a studio, pressing plant, and printing presses, so they could do everything in house.  In 1955 a custom pressing division was opened to manufacture records for anyone who wanted to record and had the money to pay for it.  This continued until 1985, and in that span of time, Rite did custom pressing on approximately 21,000 different singles, most of which were country, bluegrass, or gospel.  During its existence, Rite produced 78 rpms, 45 rpms, and some LPs.


KENTUCKY RECORDS Kentucky was Carl Burkhardt’s first label in the Rite-Gateway group.  It became active in the early 1950s and eventually issued around 120 singles.  The bulk of the recordings were covers or sound-alikes that were sold for bargain prices as special record offers on WCKY and other radio stations.  Several young local bluegrass artists got a start on this label including Sonny Osborne, Jim & Jesse, and Red Allen.

A listing of Kentucky records can be found at:

Notes of Bopping editor.

Not much is known about the many artists who appeared on Kentucky, the less unfamiliar being JIMMIE BALLARD,  JOE “CANNONBALL” LEWIS, and to some extent, AL RUNYON and BUFFALO JOHNSON. The story of Joe Lewis is to be found elsewhere on this site. Let’s talk of Jimmie Ballard – earlier on I promised you I would tell everything I know on this elusive artist. He was a regular of the Cumberland Valley Barn Dance and a D.J. in Lexington, Ky. Apart from a solitary (4 excellent songs) session with KING records in 1953, he had most of his records on Kentucky. One thing of interest: he could at the same time have sacred records and risqué! Things like the classic Billy Hughes’ (was this the original version?) “Birthday Cake Boogie“, “Chicken Plucker” or “She’s Got Something“. Let’s take a listen to the lyrics of these songs in the podcasts…Finally, Cees Klop (Collector Records, Netherlands) does think Jimmie Ballard and the one Jimmie Lee Ballard on Rem (“Say You’ll Be Mine“, a pop rocker from 1962) are different persons. And that is all I know on Jimmie Ballard!


Jimmie Ballard second from left?

jimmy ballard pickentucky ballard tappin' kentucky ballard cake

Another artist of interest was Buffalo Johnson. No one knows the instrument he played, maybe fiddle. He had numerous records as soon as 1946 on the Jim Stanton’s RICH-R-TONE label. Here (on Kentucky 520), his “Herd” does the backing for Jimmie Ballard. Harry Adams offers another rendition of the REECE SHIPLEY‘s classic “Milk Bucket boogie” (original on the Kingsport label out of Tennessee). I know very little of AL RUNYON, who cut a Rockabilly version of “Baby Please Come Home” (co-penned with Jimmy Skinner) in 1958 on Starday; before that, he had numerous issues on Kentucky, including some Jimmie Rodgers songs. Ray Anderson cut the patriotic “Stalin Kicked The Bucket” in 1953. Delbert Barker deserves a real research, as he appears to be the man who made a career covering Country hits of the time for Carl Burkhardt’s low-budget labels: Gateway or Big 4 Hits.He cut a couple of  sessions for King in 1956. Jim Fair also did many covers, for example Tubb’s “It Makes No Difference Now” (# 559). The label had also Bobby Musgrove, who later came to King, among other labels, as Bobby Grove (“No Parking Here“, # 4946). Finally Bob Mooney had “A Sucker Born Everyday“, later reissued on Rem. Indeed Mooney must have been the owner of a very interesting label, REM records, in the late fifties/early sixties.

kentucky anderson stalin

Rem  mooney sucker

first published on Kentucky 575

alcar ballard walk

reissue of a Kentucky record


kentucky CD cover


kentucky ballard plucker


as usual, information from various sources (even ebay!). This time it’s been quite hard to get the documents!

kentucky Ballard pray

kentucky fair makesarticle revised and augmented on October 31, 2011.